I can’t fling myself into my writing future without acknowledging the place I’ve come from. Nova Scotia has a rich artistic and literary history, and I’m deeply indebted to the shoulders of the giants I was raised on. Ten years ago I attended a week-long retreat for young writers at the Tatamagouche Centre, in my little tiny home town.
While I was there, I was so lucky to be mentored by Shauntay Grant—read more about her here. One of Halifax’s poet laureates and a phenomenal poet and spoken word artist, she has been unfailingly kind and supportive of me since my first days of stringing words together. She has a new children’s book due out on 1 September titled Africville, about the historical community of the same name that used to be in Halifax’s North End. From 2 September to 27 November, the Dalhousie University Art Gallery will be hosting Stitched Stories: The Family Quilts as curated by Shauntay.
The Writers Federation of Nova Scotia hosts a huge network of resources for writers and artists at home. The page features author spotlights, competitions, workshops, and a weekly blog. On top of these things, WFNS also hosts its own library, and the database is extensive and available for free to both fed members and the general reading public.
In the Annapolis Valley, I owe a huge part of my soul to Wanda Campbell. Wanda was my undergraduate thesis supervisor and is an extraordinary poet—I cannot describe the experience of sharing a stage with her and how valuable it was to me. During he afternoons we practiced in her little office, and she listened and weighed my thoughts like I was her peer… I am a more confident poet for her grace and guidance.
Jon Saklofske is another former professor and now a fast friend. He remains my unfailing cheerleader and sound critic, and has committed amazing amounts of personal time and energy to my academic and creative success. He’s brilliant in his own field and pushes his students to their best—not just me! My peers who shared his classes with me have gone significantly further into their fields than nearly all the others I can name, and that’s really what defines a professor, isn’t it?
Other honourable mentions: Andrew Steeves, the owner and co-creator of Gaspereau Press based out of Kentville, Nova Scotia, produces the most beautiful and tender books your hands will ever hold. You can follow him on Instagram to see what I mean about that gorgeous craftsmanship.
On a related note, poet Sue Goyette has two books of her opus with Gaspereau Press. Ocean and A Brief Reincarnation of a Girl have both won numerous awards. My best friend’s favourite line of poetry comes from a poem in Ocean, and I have it tattooed under my left shoulder. I was lucky enough to meet Sue in 2016 when my professor Erin Wunker invited her to read to our class—and take a selfie with her! but we both look quite sleepy, so I’ll keep that picture to myself.